This Christmas we set out to make a positive, social impact. Working with the charity Caring in Bristol, we hoped to provide all the fruit and veg they’d need for their Christmas campaign – feeding homeless people in Bristol throughout the festive period. We asked for your help, and you stepped up to the plate.Through the purchase of meal vouchers and donations, you raised £571. The Farm matched-funded this, and we eventually provided around £1,300s-worth (retail value) of ethical and organic fruit and veg to provide 2,307 meals!
Such generosity ensured we ended 2018 on a high. However, last year had its fair share of ups and downs. We had some challenging weather conditions during 2018 - snow, drought, and too much rain in between – but still we enjoyed a good growing season, as the field team heroically adapted to the conditions.
Infrastructure-wise, we built a new roundhouse, installed a functional irrigation system and reskinned a polytunnel. We also welcomed a record number of people to The Farm, through volunteering, our Adopt-a-Crop scheme, the Earthwise children activities, and working with organisations such as Ecowild and The Prince’s Trust.
In 2019, undoubtedly the biggest challenges will be the impact on farming of leaving the EU, and the continued effect of global warming. We’ve already seen prices of produce rise in relation to both the difficult growing season and a devalued pound sterling, but what the government chooses to replace the CAP with will have a dramatic effect on the wider farming community and the environment. Appeasing both the organic/agro-ecological farming community and that of the larger conventional, more industrialised farms is not likely to be possible, and the effects of the Agricultural Bill will have implications for our countryside. A “No Deal Brexit” will impact imported produce, with companies on both sides of the divide unsure of what trade will look like. These multiple challenges could see price rises on veg and fruit by a further 5-7%, and may shift power back towards supermarkets, going against the trends of the past 10 years.
The Farm will work hard to navigate the uncertainty and sweeping changes. We’re particularly looking forward to investing money made from our successful Crowdfunder in improving our operations and farming. With £27K+ raised, we’ve already begun much-needed improvements to our oldest polytunnel. We launched a new therapeutic horticulture programme called Grow and Make this month, with funding from Bath’s Wellbeing College. And we’ll also be expanding our veg box delivery service to Weston-Super-Mare in February. New year, new route!
There are plenty of wonderful projects to help distract us, and keep us forging forward with enthusiasm and optimism, during 2019. We hope you can join us, as we continue our story together.